Public funds used in mayor's attempt to oust city attorney
By ETGAR LEFKOVITS
Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski has spent nearly NIS 1 million of public funds on private lawyers he hired in the wake of his attempt to dismiss the respected city attorney, city documents released Sunday show.
The mayor's attempts to oust city attorney Yossi Havilio, which have been temporarily frozen by a Jerusalem court following his appeal, have cost the public coffers NIS 500,000 alone.
Lupolianski has also spent hundreds of thousands of shekels in hiring private attorneys to defend the city in an array of legal matters ranging from appeals filed by the opposition over various controversial municipal moves to the city's ongoing refusal to fund Jerusalem's gay and lesbian center.
The total amount the mayor has spent on outside legal fees is NIS 945,000, according to official city documents. "This shocking waste of public funds could have been easily avoided if the mayor had abided by the rule of law," opposition Meretz city councilman Sa'ar Netanel said.
Lupolianski's spokesman Gidi Schmerling said Sunday that the mayor has been forced to hire private attorneys as the city attorney has repeatedly refused to represent him in court following repeated legal appeals by the opposition.
"The municipality regrets the situation, but one can surely not blame the mayor or the city for it," Schmerling said.
Lupolianski's controversial decision to oust Havilio follows a series of legal losses he suffered after refusing to accept various legal opinions proffered by the city attorney, including one against illegal city funding for haredi private schools in the capital, and one against illicit political appointments.
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